Sunday, August 11, 2019

Cave Church

Budapest's Gellérthegyi Barlan (or the Gellért hill cave) is a cave turned into hermit's hideout, turned into peasant home, turned into a church, and then closed and sealed behind a concrete wall by the communists. Oh, and the communists also executed the head monk.

But fortunately, the concrete wall was taken down and the church reopened on August 27, 1989.

Today the church can be visited by paying a small fee for the ticket. The main church rooms themselves are inside the hill in the cave, but there is also an attached monastery, Pálos kolostor, built in front of the cliff.

The church is on Gellért hill, and there's a great path leads from the church up to the top where you can find the Citadella fortress. The walk up is much recommended, with great views over the river and Budapest. But the fortress itself is sadly closed at the moment due to the structure being unstable.

More pictures:

A window at the cave church:

The entrance:

View from the top:

The additional churches on the side of the hill:

See all the caving stories at! Photos and text (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Diósgyőri vár

What a mixture of styles! The Diósgyőri vár or Castle of Diósgyőri sits in the town of Miskolc. A medieval castle, next to a traditional church, next to regular houses, next to a massive wall of Soviet-rule era apartment blocks.

Also, the restored castle is very nice and well worth visiting.

Text and photos (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Dungeons of Castle Eger

Janne and I visited Castle Eger in Hungary (Egri Vár in Hungarian). I loved the sign, "no ballet dancing on the top of the walls"?

But the castle was also great. The castle has seen many changes during its thousand year old history. There used by be a large gothic palace or church, but today only ruins remain; the military defence designed evolved over the years as cannons developed. The castle is best known for defeating the Turkish invasion in 1552.

There are interesting dungeons, tunnels, and prisons to explore at the site.


The cathedral ruins:


A view from the well:

A view from the top of the walls (no, I was not ballet dancing):

See more urban exploration and caving stories from and! Text and pictures (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Harmony Spa

Today I washed the sweat and dust of the day off at the Harmony Spa. Very, very nicely coloured sauna. Hot too. And a nice blue pool.

Recommended. Nine thousand local to enter (around 27€).

Photos and text (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved. Read more sauna and swimming stories from and! And all sauna and pool pictures have been taken with permission, outside opening hours, or when there were no other guests present.

House of Terror

The museum of Communism's Achievements? Also known as the Museum of Terror... terrible stories about the killings, beatings, and imprisonments of the communist era. People who didn't follow the party line, or just happened to have a house that a party official wanted.

Horrible, horrible.

Photos and text (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved. And once again, inside the museum one cannot take photos, but fortunately someone donated some pictures for this article. (Thanks!)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Labirintus: Lost in Count Dracula's Prison

A maze of caves and underground prison cells, cages, darkness, fog, and Dracula? Sign me up please!

Today I visited Labirintus, a set of connected caves and cellars under the Buda hill in Budapest. The adventure is to do this in darkness. And a wax museum! Again! This time from the opera... weird.

Not bad. Also, much cooler than the 30+ degrees outside.

See more urban exploration and caving stories from and! Text and pictures (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Hospital in the Rock

A vacation isn't a vacation unless one can visit another nuclear bunker!

I had an opportunity to peek inside Budapest's Hospital in the Rock, a set of natural caves turned into cellars turned into a connected network of tunnels turned into an underground shelter for World War II turned into a hospital, turned into a secret nuclear bunker for cold war, turned back into a hospital for the uprising against Soviet Union rule, and now turned into a tourist attraction.

An interesting historical visit! What's at the same time interesting and disturbing is that the place is filled with wax models of patients and doctors, sometimes with lifelike (or should I say deathlike?) details of the wounded.

Taking photographs inside is forbidden. Fortunately I was able to to find some inside pictures from other sources, presented here for your viewing pleasure.

Generator lights in the still operational electrical system:

In the 1968 uprising against Soviet Union, the hospital was again needed:



See more urban exploration and caving stories from and! Text and pictures (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Copying adults

Influence ... one has to be careful with that. I took my sister's twins today to their first cave. At first they were a bit scared, but soon they had helmets on, one was holding my camera and the photographing the other one going through the cave. I wonder where they learned that? :-)

We visited Aleksis Kivi's cave that I've been to before -- an excellent cave to visit for kids, safe, easy, but still cave-like. And only 50m from road. Much recommended! But does anyone have a recommendation for other caves that are equally easy, in the Helsinki region? At the moment I'm drawing a blank, because I can only think of boring-ish roof caves that will not feel like caves, and dangerous cliffs and rock piles. Any ideas?

See all the caving stories at! Photos and text (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Gallträsk swim

I've lived 25 years in Kauniainen, but today was the first time that I swam in our lake, the Gallträsk. A perfect, hot day for that.

A public park path goes around the Gallträsk, and there are a couple of piers, including one with stairs for swimmers. The lake is very shallow, I think the deepest point is 1.5 meters.

And now to my own sauna to celebrate the national sauna day. To celebrate the national broadcasting company will have several hours of live broadcast this evening.

Follow all the swimming and sauna stories at and! Photos and text (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Gorgas Creek Cave

Cave in a park in Philadelphia? Unreal...

I'm driving from New York to DC for a workshop, and decided to look up if there's anything interesting on the way. No skiing... no way. But there are some caves in Pennsylvania. In fact, there's two old, man-made caverns in the Wissahickon Creek. I decided to visit the most interesting one of them, the Gorgas Creek cave.

The Gorgas Creek cave is much less widely known than the other cave. In fact, very little is known about this cave. It was possibly one of the oldest mines in American history, created in the second half of the 1700s, possibly by the Boxborough Mining Company.

After some searching, I finally managed to find this place at roughly the coordinates N 40.0434 W 75.2132. However, as I entered the cave in the darkening evening, the thunderstorm headed to Philadelphia started to be threatening. I was worried about flooding in the deep canyon I was in. And I was worried about the computer I was carrying in my backpack for not wanting to leave electronics in the parked car... at some point I started running and managed to get to the car with only about 1 minute of rain falling on me.

Interestingly, few minutes later my phone beeped due to an alarm for flooding. I don't think any flooding actually occurred, but I did feel better on the highway, even with the heavy rain making my long drive more difficult.

I did not have time to visit the other cave though, the Cave of Kelpius. That would have been a cave dug out by a doomsday cult in the late 1600s. Apparently the cult withered away eventually, when the doomsday dates passed and passed with no actual doomsday arriving :-)

Another entrance to the cave, now filled up?


The drive:

This article has also appeared at the TGR website. See all urban exploration and caving stories from and websites! Photos, videos and text (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

22th floor sauna

Once again in Kista, Stockholm. For work. In the summer everything seems to be better, though. Like hotel pricing. Apparently Kista is not a big vacation destination, so even the best hotels go for 60€ a night, so this time I'm staying at the Scandic Victoria.

And their 22th floor sauna is still very nice. And views good.

Read more of my sauna experiences from Photos and text (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

The Black Sauna at the Finnair Platinum Lounge

I am heading to the IAB workshop & IETF but not before trying the new black sauna at the Finnair lounge with Ari.

Not bad! The painted wood seemed a bti strange at first, but it actually feels good. And the cooling room next to the sauna is spectacular! There's a sky window, artificial, I think... maybe. Looks like the real thing, actually, but it cannot be inside the airport. Very well done!

The only complaint of the new Finnair Platinum lounge is that to get my usual Pepsi Max or other soft drink I have to go to the bar and ask for one, instead of just grabbing one from the fridge. If you're in a BIG hurry to get to the sauna AND your flight, every second counts :-)

Photos and text (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved. Read more sauna stories from!